Friday afternoon in Minnesota, the Mariners begin their 2022 season. They’ll do so with plenty of optimism that they can snap the longest playoff drought (dating back to 2001) in Major League Baseball. And they’ll do so with a newly-extended shortstop. J.P. Crawford and the Mariners have agreed to a five-year, $51 million extension, reports ESPN.
Craword, 27, wasn’t set to hit free agency until after the 2024 season and the deal immediately kicks in, so it will buy out two years of free agency while providing the Mariners with cost certainty in the near-term. He’s now under team control through 2026.
Last season, Crawford hit .273/.338/.376 (102 OPS+) with 169 hits, 37 doubles, nine homers, 54 RBI, 89 runs and 3.8 WAR. Crawford was a very-good defensive shortstop via metrics like Total Zone runs or Defensive Runs Saved while Statcast’s news “outs above average” had him just about league average at the premium defensive position.
Regardless, the Mariners love him to the point that general manager Jerry Dipoto made a public declaration that Crawford would be the team’s shortstop moving forward, despite the club’s expectation to be aggressive in adding talent in the offseason and with a loaded free agent shortstop class that includes the likes of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Javier Báez and Carlos Correa.
Crawford now has even more job security with the new deal.
The Mariners have had several good seasons in recent years, but always have come up short in making the playoffs. Their latest run was their closest, winning 90 games last season and missing the postseason by just two games. They then had a good offseason, notably in signing AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray while trading for All-Stars Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez.